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Out of Africa

Leaving Morocco
Even getting out of Chefchaouen wasn't easy. After walking to the bus station, which seemed to be halfway to Tangier, we were stopped as we walked in, told the ticket offices were closed, and that we could only buy tickets from the guys running the bus. It was Ramadan, and a lot of things didn't seem to be open, so we bought our tickets from them and tried to board the bus.

The bus was surrounded by the customary combination of touts / thugs, and as usual it was hard to figure out who actually worked there and who didn't. A dodgy looking guy with a social problem told us to put our bags into the luggage compartment, and as we were doing so, ordered us with, "Give me money!" Naturally, as no-one else was having to pay for taking their luggage and chickens, and we hadn't had to pay on our way there, we refused. We expected he would let it go at this point, but a ten minute argument ensued; we stood our ground, and he became more threatening. In the end, we were on the bus, sitting in our seats, and he was still screaming into our faces. Obviously, he wasn't going to give up, and rather than taking the risk of our bags disappearing into the landscape, we gave in and handed him a euro. We were on our way towards Spain today, and we'd done pretty well avoiding being ripped off during our time in Morocco.

Early in the afternoon the ancient bus rolled into Tangier. Strangely unable to find a taxi that would take us, we walked to the port, grabbing some fantastic cake and pastries from Patisserie Paris on the way. Sometimes it's hard to understand why, if Morocco is trying to encourage tourism, some things, such as Tangier's ferry terminal, aren't cleaned up. Arriving there, we were first hassled by groups of touts hanging around the ticket offices, hoping to get a tip or cut of the ticket price. The ticket agency, whilst being very unfriendly, then sold us tickets for a ferry which was allegedly due to leave in thirty minutes. As we walked up to passport control, however, the ferry was closing it's doors, then we were refused through immigration as the ticket office hadn't given us departure forms to fill in. The guy on immigration couldn't give us them, of course, so we were directed over to 'officials' (well, they wore name tags if that means anything) who agreed to provide us with the forms and 'help us' fill them in for a fee if we wanted to catch the ferry. We now realised that it was these forms that the touts outside had also been trying to sell to us. It was like the entire ferry terminal was corrupt - a very bad first or last experience for any visitor to Morocco. Naturally, by the time we'd gone back out to the ticket office, got the proper departure forms and bitched at them, the ferry had left, and we had to wait almost two hours for the next one.

The ferry, when we finally boarded, did turn out to be fast, and we stood on deck, watching the sun set as North Africa faded into the distance across the Straits of Gibraltar. We'd been told the boat went to Algeciras, but unsurprisingly, it went into Tarifa instead, from where we had to board a bus to Algeciras. By the time we finally got there, we'd just missed the last coach to Seville, which we were due to fly out from the following day, so we booked into a cheap hotel, and went out to celebrate being back in Spain.

I'd always felt that Algeciras was the ugly armpit of Spain, a grimy port town wedged below Gibraltar, and I wasn't looking forward to spending the night there. Soon, however, we found a lively bar, enjoyed the wonderful freedom of being able to buy beer again, and stuffed ourselves on tacos before finally staggering back to our hotel and listening to one of our neighbours apparently dying in the room upstairs.


Well I told you someday we would laugh at it, and after reading that I was pissing myself, the trip certainly wasnt boring.

It never seems so bad in hindsight, does it?

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